African Time (-Conciousness)



Author of this blog:

CBS Volunteer 2014/15 Tamara


One stereotype that I somehow see myself forced to confirm is that time consciousness over here is a different one all together.

Our evening classes are supposed to start at 3 PM and go until 6 PM, but until today I am not sure I have seen one of the teachers to start before 3:20 / 3:30 PM. The teachers as well as the students start arriving in school around that time. Quite normal. The same with my students.  I am supposed to start with my first student at 8 AM, the second one at 9 AM, the third at 10 AM, then I usually have the regular (meaning the NVTI) students and in the afternoon at 3 PM another student and then the last one at 4 PM. Now with this timetable, you can imagine it is difficult to manage if one of them comes late, especially if it is 1 hour or more of delay. And that is what happens daily and somehow puts me in a difficult situation. I have told them several times to come on time and I have explained why, but it seems, it isn’t just possible.

I always teach my AFS juniors resp. future exchange students about the importance of adapting yourself during an experience like this but at the same time also not to, what we call it, “lose your own identity”, meaning not just to put all your principles aside and accept everything you see and learn. The difficulty is to find the balance in-between and that is what I am now struggling with, myself. Not that punctuality is a very important principle in my life I don’t want to forget about, but that is just what I know and what I am used to. I plan my day with that, when to prepare myself for a lesson, when to do other things which have to be done, when to eat and when to teach the NVTI students, according to the timetable. Now how will I do that if the computer students just come whenever they feel like coming? Either I adapt myself and try to just take it as it comes, doing my things when nobody is around and immediately be there for my students when they finally decide to come to class. Or I stick to my plan and do everything at a certain time, meaning, if the computer students come more than an hour late, it is their own cup of tea and they will have to use the time to practice on their own.
That is what I have to think about next. Or if I just organise everything differently, for example trying to take more than 1 student at a time and make the class at a specific time in the morning and one in the afternoon, for people who are working.














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